Classical music education for the 21st century

I wrote a piece for Arts Professional magazine about grade exams, diversity, and the social and creative renewal of classical music.

Also my interview about my research on classical music and class was featured on BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed in December.

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Classical music education for the 21st century

‘Women conductors are not my cup of tea’. Classical music’s gender inequality problem

Conductor Mariss Jansons today receives the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Gold Medal at London’s Barbican Centre. The Latvian conductor will become the 104th recipient of the medal. Jansons is currently chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor emeritus of the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Classical Music magazine describes how, in an interview for The Telegraph, Ivan Hewett asked Jansons how he felt about ‘the biggest change in the conducting scene’ – the increase in female conductors over Jansons’s career.

“Hmm, well. Well I don’t want to give offence,” said Jansons, “and I am not against it, that would be very wrong. I understand the world has changed, and there is now no profession that can be confined to this or that gender. It’s a question of what one is used to. I grew up in a different world, and for me seeing a woman on the podium… well, let’s just say it’s not my cup of tea.”

Is it a problem that someone with such attitudes is receiving one of classical music’s most prestigious awards? And what does this say about the classical music world? Continue reading “‘Women conductors are not my cup of tea’. Classical music’s gender inequality problem”

‘Women conductors are not my cup of tea’. Classical music’s gender inequality problem

Miscellany

Here’s a round-up of my online activity over the past month or two.

Dr Kim Allen, from University of Leeds, and I are editing a special issue of the journal Sociological Research Online about ‘character education’ in the UK, following our successful one-day conference on this topic last year. We are also writing an article for this special issue on education policy networks, looking at how money and ideas from the US are flowing into the UK education system. One of the people involved in these policy networks is Sir Anthony Seldon, so Kim and I were very interested to read the report on ‘The Positive University’ that he co-authored last month. We wrote a blog post in response to this for WonkHE, which received a lot of attention on social media. Our article on character education policy networks will be out next spring.

At The 1752 Group, we’ve been very busy working on staff sexual misconduct in higher education, and I was interviewed about the unfolding sexual harassment scandals in Westminster, Hollywood and higher education for Turkish news channel TRT.

Finally, on a lighter note, my interview on class and classical music for the University of Melbourne’s sociology radio programme, Socbites, is on their October podcast, but listen to the rest of the podcast as well for discussions of how sociologists research class and music more widely.

Miscellany

Australian universities and staff sexual misconduct

I spent a month over the summer on a visiting fellowship at Monash University in Melbourne. My trip coincided with the publication of the long-awaited Australian Human Rights Commission report on sexual violence in universities, which lead to some interesting conversations on this theme. I participated in a couple of events on this work and met some great people who are making change happen. I wrote a blog post for The 1752 Group about the findings in the report in relation to staff sexual misconduct, and a blog for the network Feminist Educators Against Sexism about ways to use this report to take this work forward. I’ll be watching the situation in Australia with great interest as they update this work in the coming years.

Australian universities and staff sexual misconduct

Towards cultural democracy?

Musicologist, pianist and activist Ian Pace has collated a set of responses to an article by Stella Duffy in the Guardian, commenting on a report that I co-authored on ‘everyday creativity’. These responses take a critical view of the central idea of the report, that cultural policy should move further towards supporting everyday creativity, and suggest that there are a variety of dangers with this approach. I have responded below to some of the comments.

Several commentators make comparisons between a shift towards ‘everyday creativity’ and arts policies under fascist regimes. They draw on historical examples from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany relating to the problem of addressing elitism in the arts via democratisation, and include an accusation that this kind of policy shift would be ‘Stalinist’. While I think using historical examples to make a comparison can be helpful, it’s noticeable that these comments leap straight to fascism rather than considering any other, less extreme, examples, such as the Greater London Authority’s leftist cultural policy in the 1980s. This leap is the equivalent of suggesting that any form of economic redistribution leads to communism. By contrast, Stella Duffy gives the example of Fun Palaces, an organisation that has minimal central organisation and takes very different forms in local areas. Some Fun Palaces might draw on ‘elite’ forms of art such as literature while others might make space for more participatory forms. Rather than fascism, this is an example of extreme localism, its opposite.

Continue reading “Towards cultural democracy?”

Towards cultural democracy?

Safeguarding and youth voice in music education – event overview

The third meeting of our emerging network on safeguarding in classical music education was held on Friday 25th November at The Purcell School (with very many thanks to deputy head James Harding for arranging this and to the Purcell School for providing the venue as well as refreshments and lunch). Having an organisation which is at the heart of training elite classical musicians in the UK – and indeed internationally – offering to host this event is an important symbolic gesture about the sector taking a lead on this issue. Not only that, but our meeting was held in the Liszt Room, with portraits of 19th century pianist and composer Franz Liszt all over the walls as well as one of his original manuscripts on display.

img_20161125_111700 Continue reading “Safeguarding and youth voice in music education – event overview”

Safeguarding and youth voice in music education – event overview